Stop telling students the answers

Students learn better when we ask questions before we provide the answers. They learn better if we ask them to generate their own strategies, interpretations and ideas before we tell them how to do things — whether it’s how to use an economic model, solve an algebra problem or write an essay. I learned this nugget…

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Is boredom actually good for you?

Boredom can be good for you, it’s true. But at school, not so much. After my last blog post, a friend challenged me and pointed out that boredom is not all bad. I spent a little time following up on that — to see what research says about the plus side of boredom. Researchers have…

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Make time in class for what’s happening outside

ABC News How do you react when events outside the classroom are clearly affecting students inside? Do you take time to let students talk about their opinions, experiences, and questions? Or do you do what most of us do — stick to the lesson plan? Years ago, Mary Dilworth and Carlton Brown interviewed urban teenagers…

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When to cold-call? Today.

When is the best time to start cold-calling students? The first day of class. There are plenty of reasons not to. We have to “get through” the syllabus. We don’t know the students’ names yet. We haven’t built a relationship yet. The students haven’t learned any of the material yet. But I’m going to argue…

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Survival tips for first-year teachers

It’s fun to see colleagues around the country sharing their “teacher stats” as this school year kicks off. Here are a few of mine: 23rd year of teaching – 20th at Mounds View HS 3 schools: Wilbur Middle School, The Independent School and Mounds View HS Grades taught: 8-12 Favorite grade ever taught: 12 Subjects…

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Replace teachers? I’ve heard that one before

Last week, Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson riled a lot of teachers by suggesting that students learn more from Ken Burns documentaries than they do in history class. (See this article.) More videos, fewer teachers! Never heard that one before. Except perhaps when Thomas Edison said: “It is possible to teach every branch of human…

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Yes, fun is a good goal

Have you ever run into students over the summer who told you excitedly that they are studying vocabulary for next year? Drawing graphs? Solving problems with formulas? Reading textbooks? No, probably not. Last night I ran into three students at a Junior Achievement event, and they couldn’t wait to tell me what they’d been doing…

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Technology we need in our classrooms

In just the past two weeks, I have read about Apple’s new technology that could be used to disable iPhones from photo and video recording during concerts as well as neoprene pouches, produced by a startup called Yondr, that are already being used to lock up smartphones during concerts. Why do we need these expensive…

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All kids deserve to compete

Taking my students to competitions — like the Junior Achievement Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. this week — is rewarding because they work hard and perform well, and sometimes they win. It’s also humbling because I get to see how much energy teenagers will devote to an activity they love. In class, kids might…

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NeverBore starts with teacher training

If you had one full day to spend with brand new pre-service teachers just starting their masters’ program, what would you do? How would you prepare them for the challenges ahead?  Some teachers I know — frustrated by the low status, low pay and increasing pressure for standardized test performance — would tell them “get…

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